GVN Foundation Assists VICDA Projects

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VICDA and Global Volunteer Network, GVN, have worked together for nearly a decade with the common goal of feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and giving hope and a home to the homeless of Kenya. GVN’s volunteer program regularly sends new volunteers to Kenya to work in various projects and the GVN Foundation has fundraised for and donated generous funds to VICDA’s many projects.

Each year GVN Foundation’s global fundraiser, Eat So They Can, asks people from around the world to host a dinner party in order to raise money for those who are struggling, primarily children. The funds are then distributed to GVN’s many projects, primarily in South America, Southeast Asia and East Africa. As GVN’s Kenya partner, VICDA projects have benefited directly from these funds and donations.

Donations to Ushirika
Donations to Ushirika

Ushirika Clinic is a community health center, located in the Kibera slum in Nairobi. Ushirika is a relatively small clinic that serves a vast population and they are more often than not short of supplies and medicines needed to treat their many patients. VICDA has sent GVN volunteers to Ushirika since 2006 and GVN Foundation’s recent donation of medical supplies and medicines will be of great assistance to the Kiberan community, literally hundreds of thousands of people.

Medical donations to Ushirika Clinic in Kibera.
Medical donations to Ushirika Clinic in Kibera.
Children partaking in the Spirulina project, funded by GVN Foundation.
Children partaking in the Spirulina project, funded by GVN Foundation.

This past year, GVN Foundation has taken a great interest in VICDA’s Spirulina program. Spirulina is a nutrient rich algae that can be mixed into foods or taken as a capsule and VICDA has established Spirulina “farms” to grow the algae as well as implemented feeding programs for HIV patients and children in particular to benefit from the protein, vitamins and other nutrients found in this “super food.”

Spirulina project, funded by Eat So They Can donations.
Spirulina project, funded by Eat So They Can donations.
A thirsty Maasai girl.
A thirsty Maasai girl.

Water is a resource that is hard to come by in much of sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in rural areas. Maasailand is especially known for being arid and Maasai women oftentimes need to walk up to 6 hours a day, just to collect 20 L of water and carry it back to the camp. This is oftentimes the reason given for pulling Maasai girls out of school at an early age, so they can assist in the water collection for the family. By providing a new water tank, GVN isn’t only giving water to the community but they are giving back valuable years of education for young Maasai girls. GVN Foundation is assisting an area of Maasailand called Olshoboor, at a schooled called Ronesa School.

Children at Ronesa with their new water tank!
Children at Ronesa with their new water tank!
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The Woman Behind “Caring for the Children of Africa”

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Annie
Annie

Annie Copley of Adelaide, Australia first journeyed to Kenya as a GVN volunteer in 2006. Little did she know, the three months spent counseling HIV/AIDS patients in Nairobi’s slum areas would completely change the direction of her life. “This work has not only changed my life, it has become my life,” says Annie, ” I have a deep sense of gratitude today for the people of Kenya who, with their quiet strength and hope, teach me about real love, patience and tolerance.”

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Not long after her return to Australia Annie and her dear friend, Lauro Martire, hosted their first fundraising dinner at Lauro’s restaurant, East Terrace Continental. Held in November of 2007, that first dinner raised $11,000 – funds that were sent to VICDA at a time of great need, following the election violence of December 2007. With the money raised by Annie and Lauro’s dinner, VICDA was able to purchase mattresses, blankets, food and cooking supplies for recently displaced Kenyans in the Rift Valley.

Lauro on a visit to Kenya in 2011.
Lauro on a visit to Kenya in 2011.

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This successful dinner was the start of Caring for the Children of Africa, a registered non-profit run by Annie and directly benefited by several of VICDA’s projects. Annie credits much of the organization’s success  to the many donors and supporters who have assisted along the way but it was her collaboration with Lauro that started the wheel in motion. “Lauro has generously supported the work that I began in 2006 when he agreed to hold our first dinner in 2007. Like me he has fallen in love with the people of Kenya and I am sure he will return one day when his busy schedule allows.” Annie’s 2011 trip to Kenya was especially memorable as Lauro was able to come along and see first hand all of the good work the organization has been able to do.
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Since its inception, Annie and her donors have raised about $110,000. With these funds, Annie’s organization has helped tens of thousands of people in Kenya. They’ve funded mobile medical camps, major food drops, ongoing porridge programs in several IDP Camps, renovated classrooms, purchased desks and books and have supplied two orphanages (Shelter in Nairobi and Haven of Hope in Nakuru) with ongoing food and school supplies.
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Annie visits a family with AMKA.
Annie visits a family with AMKA.
Each dinner fundraiser is carefully thought out and planned by Annie and Lauro. She presents photos and stories of real Kenyans whom she’s met and discusses with her guests about the specific ways in which the funds will be allocated. “At our dinner last month, I presented one of the many recent stories where we were able to relocate a beautiful family, HIV patient Evelyn, with her 3 small children, from an extremely dire living situation in the Nairobi slums of Ngando.” Annie is full of emotion when discussing Evelyn. “They were living in a torn, leaking, muddy tent literally on the side of a railway track – so dangerous for the toddler who could have easily have fallen onto the tracks. We rented a one bedroom ‘shack’ for her near St Josephs, run by the AMKA project. It’s a clean, safe, and secure abode for her and her children.” Caring for the Children of Africa continues to support Evelyn and her children, along with other families Annie has grown to know and love over the years.
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A food drop for the 7,000 residents at Manjani Mingi IDP Camp.
A food drop for the 7,000 residents at Manjani Mingi IDP Camp.
The $13,000 raised at their most recent dinner held last month will go toward to construction of Lemolo Nursery School for the IDP children at Manjani Mingi Camp as well as continue a daily porridge program. “A lot of these kids in the camps still go hungry,” Annie explains, “the porridge program ensures that they at least get one nourishing meal a day.”
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Annie works with Irene, VICDA’s founder and executive director, to determine the greatest need and personally distributes the funds  and supplies on the ground – all the while keeping detailed notes to share with her donors. With her seven trips to Kenya Annie has been able to forge close relationships with many of the IDP residents and patients at AMKA, an HIV/AIDS counseling center where Annie first worked in 2006. Her obvious love for the people of Kenya is reflected in her ongoing dedication and commitment to the cause. “I know I’m going to die in Kenya someday with a big smile on my face,” says Annie, “because this is the work that makes my heart sing!”
Annie with Irene, donating desks for a classroom at Manjani Mingi IDP Camp.
Annie with Irene, donating desks for a classroom at Manjani Mingi IDP Camp.

New Uniform Jumpers for Ndii-ini Primary School!

Students at Ndia-ini Primary School show off their new uniform jumpers!
Students at Ndia-ini Primary School show off their new uniform jumpers!

Imagine the excitement of the the students at Ndii-ini Primary School in Nairobi last month when they arrived at school to find brand new uniform jumpers waiting for them! K.I.D.S. Initiatives of Canada kindly donated the jumpers for the 529 students at Ndii-ini and will continue their support in the future with annual distribution trips.

K.I.D.S. (Kenya Initiative for Development and Sustainability)  is a Canadian organization that promotes development, enrichment and sustainable solutions through educational programs and local fundraising in Canada. VICDA is proud to be an international partner of K.I.D.S. Initiative in Kenya and looks forward to their next visit!

Ndii-ini Primary School is located in the Kahawa area of Nairobi and has been in operation since the 1950’s. VICDA has worked with the school since 2009 and regularly places volunteers there. If you are interested in volunteering with VICDA at Ndii-ini, please refer to the volunteer page. K.I.D.S. Initiatives is always looking at new projects to support in order to meet the schools needs. If you would like to support their efforts, please refer to their website.

Supporting VICDA and Looking Stylish!

Butterfly BagThe mission of Hidden Baby is simple. They believe that “fashion should be about creating beauty and social change. Every Hidden Baby product has a baby hidden within the design to represent babies hidden from society’s sight.” A portion of the profits from all Hidden Baby sales is, then, donated to an organization that helps abandoned and forgotten children around the world. The Hidden Baby story is one of sisters coming together and merging their talents to create a fashion line that isn’t only unique and beautiful, but also sheds light on real life Hidden Babies. Founders Kelsey the artist and Courtney the activist, the sisters behind the line, were first inspired after visiting Happy Life Orphanage, in Kenya.

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Happy Life Milk

Happy Life Children’s Home is an orphanage located on the outskirts of Nairobi. VICDA has been supporting this incredible project for several years by placing GVN Volunteers at the project, providing food, healthcare, baby clothes and toys. Happy Life’s vision is to provide a caring home for abandoned babies in Kenya with the ultimate goal of adopting these children out to loving new parents. There is a spirit of love and joy at Happy Life and the amazing staff and volunteers work hard to create a feeling of family for the children in residence.

Happy Life

Almost all of the babies at Happy Life Children’s Home were abandoned and rescued and delivered to the orphanage and many of the babies at Happy Life were born premature and abandoned in Nairobi area hospitals. Because of this, several children at Happy Life require special medical treatment and regular doctor visits. This is an added cost to caring for children, and something that VICDA and their partners have assisted with in the past. Read more about the adorable little residents of Happy Life. Also take a moment to read about Niamh’s experience volunteering at Happy Life Children’s Home through VICDA.

Peacock Scarf Hidden Baby

Through the end of February, Hidden Baby has committed to donating 10% of their profits directly to Happy Life Children’s Home. Kelsey explains the reasons behind this decision on the Hidden Baby Blog. Many of the Hidden Baby items would make excellent Valentine’s Day gifts. And remember, every purchase made is also a gift to Happy Life Children’s Home and supports these real life Hidden Babies.

Eat So They Can in Kenya!

Contest winner’s from 2011’s Eat So They Can worldwide dinner party are now in Kenya distributing food and supplies with VICDA, GVN’s Kenyan partner.  Want to join them next year?  Host an Eat So They Can dinner to help raise funds for GVN Foundation’s many projects.  VICDA projects have benefitted greatly from this program ranging from school feeding programs to desks and text books.  Visit the Eat So They Can blog to read more!

Niamh, a volunteer at Happy Life

What’s more, GVN Foundation’s focus this month is KENYA!  GVN Foundation is partnering with Happy Life Children’s Home to bring attention to abandoned babies, a serious problem in Nairobi.  Stylish handbags are being sold through their website to benefit this fantastic project.  VICDA has been placing volunteers at Happy Life for several years and has a positive relationship with the organization.